Coming Out Autistic: Chat with an Old Friend

"Having the Chat," original digital illustration of two co-workers sipping coffee.

Gradually, since being diagnosed autistic at 63, I’ve made a new habit.

The Chat. Coming out autistic.

Giving pretty much anyone I meet a basic rundown on what it’s like to get to know autistic-AF… me.

It sure has worked better than decades of masking as “normal.” But it’s an experiment. Some times… hell, lots of times… it blows up right in my face. I just keep taking notes… and moving forward.

Despite my lack of grace… here’s the story of one Chat that turned out exceptionally well.

I’ve written about how complex friendship is for me… cuz, autistic.

Mebbe the hardest, weirdest thing about it has been coming out to folks who knew me many years ago. Before ANY of us figured out I am #ActuallyAutistic…

You know… old classmates who had me pegged as an arrogant know-it-all. Intimate friends who can’t understand why I fade on them… for years at a time. Co-workers. My g-d, co-workers…

AND former professional teammates who bought into my many entrepreneurial & nonprofit dreams… only to get entangled when each crashed & burned.

Cuz I could always dream bigger than I could actually do. And it took me decades… decades to realize that the irrational expectations I had of my self were damaging everyone around me.

An old teammate I admired, enjoyed working with, was inspired by, but ultimately I failed… PM’d me on Facebook recently out of the blue.

I can’t begin to describe the complex nexus of confusing emotions…

How are you?

Good. But I’m a moody bitch. Last few days I was all over the map.

How’s by you?

Big changes. All good, but change is painful.

Tell me about it. Lol


Well, I used to hate my mom. But I don’t any more ☺️ and it healed my brokenness w my daughter who has a six month baby. My friend said it was a Covid 19 miracle. My mom is still alive.

{Well… I disappear for a few hours. This had been a complex relationship. My third attempt at starting a nonprofit. Failed miserably. Many recriminations all around. It took me yet another attempt for me to finally simply accept I wasn’t cut out to be an executive… whatever I had learned to expect of myself.}

Me (awhile later):
I needed to think a moment to respond. I’ll try to explain.

Tbh, I can’t wrap my head around the joy & relief you must experience. My life has been quite different.

I was diagnosed 4 years ago as autistic. Essentially what used to be called aspergers. Which they now term “high functioning autism.” Which is misleading. My “symptoms” are also said to be severe.

Bare relevant facts: I have great difficulty understanding social interaction. This has lead me and the folks I interact with to experience pain.

I had a rather abusive childhood, youth, and early adulthood.

I’m not sure I’ve have had a single direct, nuanced, successful discussion with any human being in my life. In general, they are excruciating for me.

My third wife and I have forged a wonderful relationship… after 10 years of extraordinary effort.

Yet there’s hardly a day that goes by I don’t have a meltdown.

The likelihood seems extremely high to me that it will prove difficult for you and me to negotiate those waters…

Not because of any lack in you… but what are nearly insurmountable difficulties for me.

I am pleased to hear about the things you have told me.

If we are to communicate in the near term, I need to proceed really slowly.

I can only hope my attempt at personal revelation with you causes you no discomfort.

I have good memories.

And am sincerely happy to hear you are well.

Friend (and here’s the really, REALLY good part):
Thank you!

I had a white out. Honest-to-G-d #AutisticJoy white out. Head-heart-gasm.

My friend happily went on to tell me more: experiences with a dear one who was autistic. Thanking me for my “over the top” consideration and personal revelation… and even cooler sharing personal experiences of battling demons. And successes doing so.

Such an amazing moment in my life. I had to share with you guys. I’m still processing…

But the coolest thing of all? My friend, whom I had HAD to tell I would almost certainly NOT be able to keep in close contact with… wrote one last line.

Your message helped me appreciate my life a little more. .. nothing caused me discomfort. Just might like to listen to your music?! If it’s recorded. A band name?

How freaking cool is that.

Support #ActuallyAutistic artists, musicians, writers…

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